Category Archives: cookbook

Cookbook review: Refresh

If you live in Toronto you probably either a) have already eaten at Fresh restaurant and love it, or b) always hear your plant eating friends raving about their latest meal at Fresh. It’s the vegan restaurant to go to in Toronto. I’ve been there once before and didn’t love my dish, but I hear there are much better ones on the menu. I hope to go their again, but in the meantime I’m content with just cooking some of its dishes from its Refresh cookbook.

Today I’ve chosen to review it for the next post in my cookbook review series:

Refresh cookbook review

Refresh is a vegan cookbook, and it’s centered around whole grains, vegetables, sprouts, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy protein. I’d say it’s Asian-inspired with lots of rice bowls and noodle recipes, but it also has salads, brunch foods, smoothies, and more. It’s my go-to cookbook when I need a healthy boost!

Things I like about the Refresh cookbook

  • Its recipes are directly from the restaurant’s menu, so you can exactly replicate them!
  • It’s a great resource for sauce, dressing, and marinade recipes
  • The ingredients are all fairly easy to find in most grocery stores

Things I don’t like about the Refresh cookbook

  • The recipes can be very time consuming to make, since there are often multiple marinades/sauces involved in one recipe
  • Some of the recipes have large yields, so I find myself having to half or even quarter the recipes when I make them

Recipes I’ve tried from Refresh

1. Green goddess bowl: Brown rice / steamed greens / nori / marinated tofu / lemon tahini sauce

This is my favourite dish from the cookbook – the flavours are amazing! It takes a while to make though, since you have to make a marinade for the tofu, a tamari dressing for the steamed greens, and the lemon tahini sauce.

Refresh cookbook review

2. Mega life salad: Mixed greens / shredded carrots and beets / sprouts / mixed nuts and seeds / marinated tofu

This is a such a light, fresh dish and I love the shredded veggies in it! I used the cookbook’s green dressing for it, which paired nicely with the flavours.

Refresh cookbook review

3. California salad: Mixed greens / pesto white beans / cherry tomatoes / hearts of palm / avocado

This salad was good, but it didn’t blow me away. I love their idea to mix white beans with pesto for some added flavour though.

Refresh California salad

4. Fresh granola: Rolled oats / nuts and seeds / dried fruit

If you’re looking for a granola that is very healthy and low in sugar, this is it. It’s only sweetened with apple juice and the tiniest bit of maple syrup, so it’s not very sweet at all. I appreciate the healthiness of this recipe, but I have to admit I found this granola pretty bland and won’t be making it again.

Refresh granola

5. Dragon rice bowl: Brown rice / grilled zucchini and tomato / marinated tofu / miso gravy

I think this was my least favourite of the recipes I tried. The grilled tomato was messy, the miso gravy was only okay, and the flavours weren’t that great together. I won’t replicate this dish again, but I might play around with the miso gravy to come up with a better flavour.

Refresh dragon rice bowl

There are still a ton of other recipes from this book that I want to try, like their famous Buddha rice bowl with a peanut sauce (I would sub in sunflower seed butter), split pea soup, and their house made veggie burger. Stay tuned for my reviews of these recipes on Instagram once I try them out!

Looking for more cookbook review posts? Make sure to check these out:

The Oh She Glows Cookbook
Clean Food
Fresh Food Fast

Locals – have you ever been to Fresh? Non locals – have you ever been to a similar restaurant?


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Cookbook review: The Oh She Glows Cookbook

This post is a part of my cookbook review series. Previous posts include:
Fresh Food Fast
Clean Food

About four and a half years ago, I started reading the blog Oh She Glows. It was at a time in my life when I needed guidance, and Angela’s blog turned out to be exactly the inspiration I needed. Full of stories about her journey to finding self happiness, she motivated me to do the same while also trying out her nourishing vegan recipes along the way.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Fast forward to now and she’s finally released the Oh She Glows cookbook – which I pre-ordered and then jumped with excitement when it arrived. I’ve been cooking from it like a madwoman, and I have to say, everything I’ve made has been fantastic! But we’ll get to that in a second. First I want to mention some other features of the book.

Things I like about the cookbook:

  • Stunning photography! I swear, even if I didn’t already read her blog, this book definitely would have caught my eye at the bookstore because of the gorgeous food pictures.
  • It’s divided by recipe type with mini table of contents for each recipe section. It’s very organized and easy to navigate!
  • Her recipes are always suitable for multiple dietary needs and preferences (gluten free, nut free, vegan, soy free, grain free, etc). And when a recipe isn’t suitable, she often makes suggestions for how to adapt it.

Things I don’t like about the cookbook:

  • I may be hesitant to make some of the entree recipes for my unadventurous, meat-loving, vegetable-fearing friends and family. I know I could win them over with the desserts though!

Recipes I’ve tried from the cookbook:

1. Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Brownies - Oh She Glows Cookbook

So far this is my #1 favourite recipe from the book. They are seriously the fudgiest, richest “healthy” brownies I’ve ever made – you can’t even tell they are vegan and gluten free!

2. Protein Power Goddess Bowl

Protein Power Goddess Bowl - Oh She Glows Cookbook

With chewy wheat berries, mild lentils, nutrient packed kale, and a sauce with tahini, lemon, and garlic, how could you go wrong? This is such a flavourful salad that’s perfect to make ahead for weekday lunches. And the flavours get even better as it sits in the fridge for a day or two!

3. Glo Bars

Glo Bars - Oh She Glows Cookbook

Angela used to make these and sell them at a local farmers’ market that’s just 20 minutes away from me, but I could never buy them because of the nut butter in them. So I was ecstatic to see a recipe for them in the cookbook so that I could finally make them myself. All I did was sub soy nut butter for the peanut butter to make them nut free, and the result was delicious: healthier, tastier, and way cheaper than any packaged granola bar I’ve ever bought.

4. Empowered Noodle Bowl with Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

Empowered Noodle Bowl - Oh She Glows Cookbook

Lots of great flavours in this dish! Next time I might make the dressing a bit thicker by omitting the tablespoon of water, but that’s just personal preference. She also gives the recipe for a peanut sauce (I would make it with sunflower seed butter) that I’m sure would taste fantastic with these noodles too.

5. Marinated balsamic, maple, and garlic tempeh

Marinated balsamic, maple, and garlic tempeh - Oh She Glows Cookbook

This totally stunk up my kitchen, but it was worth it – this tempeh is amazing! For all you tempeh skeptics, this is a great recipe to try that really masks the strong taste of tempeh that some people have a hard time getting used to.

6. African peanut soup

African peanut soup - Oh She Glows Cookbook

I had to replace the peanut butter with sunflower seed butter because of my allergy, but it still tasted great. Nut/seed butter in soup sounds weird, but it really works! It also makes it a lot more filling than your average soup because of all the healthy fats.

To wrap this up – the gist of what I’m saying is if you’re vegan, gluten free, have dietary restrictions, or just enjoy healthy cooking, I highly recommend this book. And heck, even if you’re none of these things, you might surprise yourself by how much you will enjoy these recipes!

What’s your favourite recipe from Oh She Glows’ blog or cookbook?

What blog has had the most influence on you?


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Cookbook review: Clean Food

Clean Food cookbook review

When I first heard of this cookbook, I was a bit turned off by the title – I’m not a big fan of the terms “clean eating” or “clean food”. They make me think of excessive use of stevia and weird protein powder concoctions. Luckily you won’t find any of that in this cookbook. Because what the author, Terry Walters, really means here is “whole food”, which is something I can definitely support. I got this book for Christmas several years ago, and it has been one of my go to resources for healthy plant-based recipes ever since then!

Things I like about Clean Food:

  • It’s organized into seasons, making it easy to eat seasonally and locally
  • The recipes are free of many common allergens, like dairy, eggs, and wheat. Many are also nut free!
  • It has lots of unique ideas for preparing vegetables
  • Most of the recipes are fairly simple and straightforward

Things I don’t like about Clean Food:

  • There are no pictures in it
  • It contains a lot of recipes for vegetable side dishes and soups, but not as many main courses
  • I sometimes find that I have to adjust the recipes (ie. cooking time, increasing the seasonings, etc)

Recipes I’ve tried:

1. Three bean chili

Three bean chili Clean Food Terry Walters

This is a great standard vegan chili recipe! It’s similar to my own that I’ve made for years, but I like the body that the red wine adds to this one. I like my chili with lots of spice though, so I added extra cumin and chili powder.

2. Lentil soup

Lentil Soup Clean Food Terry Walters

This is a great soup to make in a big batch and enjoy all week. I found it actually tasted better after sitting in the fridge for a few days! I also think this would also be a great recipe to play around with a bit and try adding different spices, herbs, and vegetables.

3. Maple mustard tempeh

Maple mustard tempeh

Holy smokes, this picture is all the way back from 2011! Where has the time gone? Even though it was ages ago that I last made this recipe, I remember loving it! Mustard pairs so well with tempeh and I love the sweetness that the maple syrup adds.

4. Orange ginger tofu

Orange ginger tofu from Clean Food

This is one of my favourite recipes from this book – I love the sweet flavour of orange paired with tofu. But I find I have to cook it at a higher oven temperature and for ~10 minutes longer than the recipe calls for.

5. Banana coconut chocolate chip cookies

Banana coconut chocolate chip cookies

These definitely taste like a healthy cookie, but still delicious nonetheless. And bonus: they’re healthy enough to eat for breakfast!

Have you ever cooked anything from this cookbook? If so, what’s your favourite recipe?

What’s your favourite plant based cookbook?

Previous cookbook review posts:
Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley
Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero


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